Addressing Asthma Disparities: Helping Children Breathe Easier

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Blog-Authorby Brenda Doroski, Director, Center for Asthma and Schools

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the release of The Coordinated Federal Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities, I am excited to be part of this effort to improve the lives of children with asthma

The Action Plan was released on May 31, 2012 by CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.  They were joined by other federal representatives and national leaders who helped to unveil the Action Plan to the 100 participants at the event and the 400 participants joining by live broadcast.

The Action Plan outlines strategies to reduce barriers to implementation of guidelines-based asthma care; enhance local capacity to deliver integrated, comprehensive asthma care; improve capacity to identify the children most in need; and accelerate efforts to prevent the onset of asthma.  EPA is leading efforts to equip parents to effectively manage environmental asthma triggers as part of their child’s asthma care.

While the Action Plan is focused on coordinated federal action, this alone is not enough to fully address racial and ethnic disparities in asthma. We are actively engaging non-federal stakeholders to take action at the local community level through interactive webinars, meetings and conferences.

We are creating pathways for community programs and non-governmental organizations to engage with us on this important work.  Headlining this effort is www.AsthmaCommunityNetwork.org–an online peer to peer network that provides access to valuable tools and resources.  This Network, supported by EPA in collaboration with the Merck Childhood Asthma Network and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Allies Against Asthma at the University of Michigan, serves as the communication hub for stakeholders to explore the Action Plan and share the strategies and best practices they are deploying in the field.  Today, the Network has more than 2,000 members representing and supporting nearly 700 asthma programs across the country.

Asthma Awareness Month provides another excellent opportunity to further engage with our stakeholders to promote and adopt best practices and effective strategies for successfully managing asthma.  To learn more, visit www.epa.gov/asthma/childrenstaskforce.

About the author:  Brenda Doroski serves as the Director of the Center for Asthma and Schools in EPA’s Indoor Environments Division.  She leads efforts to improve indoor air quality in homes and schools.  Brenda has twenty-five years experience developing and leading domestic and international environmental health programs with the EPA and the Peace Corps in Latin America.

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